On World Philosophy Day, 7 Lessons on Leadership from Moral Philosophers


Moral philosophers have been thinking, writing, and arguing for millennia about topics that most modern-day experts and leaders too often ignore: human values, core beliefs and character. Wrestling with big questions, using fine-grain nuance to make distinctions, and pausing to ask what matters and reimagine what could be are the very qualities we need most in our leaders.

On this World Philosophy Day, I share pointers from some of the moral philosophers who help us better understand the morality in our pursuits:

  1. “The moral imagination diminishes with distance.” – David Hume
  2. “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” – Epictetus
  3. “We can learn to be whole by saying what we mean and doing what we say” – Martin Buber
  4. “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” – Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi
  5. “The word of man is the most durable of all material.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
  6. “Excellence is not a single act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
  7. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Click here for deeper commentary on these seven pointers.

As Lao Tzu reminds us, every journey we’ll ever take begins with one foot in front of the other. Those of us who can commit to a long-term journey, finding new ways to innovate in HOW we do what we do along the way, will be the ones who thrive, not just survive, in the 21st century.